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How to Help Children Take Liquid Medicine

Posted by Caitlin Taylor

Aug 5, 2021 8:19:00 AM


Problems giving a child medicine can be the stuff of nightmares for parents. No one wants to be the one attempting to give medicine to a screaming, writhing child who is determined to keep their lips locked shut, only to have them spit the medicine out. It's a common problem that all too many people face; 60% of parents report that medicine-time with their kids is highly stressful.


When a young child needs medicine, a liquid form can often be the easiest option. However, taking medicine can be such a negative experience for children that even liquids can be difficult to administer. It isn't only parents of young children that face this problem; difficulty taking medicine can continue even for school-aged children. Luckily, pharmacies have the power to make bad-tasting medicine a thing of the past.

“It helped my 3 yr. old daughter to clear up a third round of strep throat. During two previous attempts it was a pure nightmare at medication times until FLAVORx saved the day.

I 100% recommend their services. It saved me so many headaches and so many shed tears.” – Lela M., Mom

Mom gives child liquid medicine


Taste Matters


Let’s face it, there are plenty of medicines out there that taste just plain bad. Cleocin, Tamiflu, Ranitidine, Cimetidine, Potassium Chloride, the list of meds with a high yuck-factor goes on and on. These medicines can be an extra struggle for sick kiddos. In fact, 79% of children complain about bad-tasting medication.


But what about all of the medicines out there that don't taste so terrible? Many commonly dispensed medications like Amoxicillin come pre-flavored with kid-friendly flavors, but that still doesn't necessarily mean that kids will willingly take them. Taste is a pretty big deal for kids, so even a "good-tasting" medicine can be a problem. Kids will often get hung up on a favorite flavor and/or have a flavor that is an absolute no-go. Plus, if they've already developed bad associations with medicine, being told they have to take any medicine could be enough to spark a tantrum. This is where the power of choice comes in.

"For those of you that don’t know, Cleocin liquid has the worst taste ever. Every time I come across a customer I make sure I warn the patients this medicine is the worst and I always offer the flavoring options!" - Linda G., Pharmacy Tech

Child won't take liquid medicine


Empowerment of Choice


For young children, taking medicine can be seen as something that’s forced on them. It isn’t something they choose to do, and the logic of “it will make you feel better” might not always carry the same importance for kids as it does for adults. Taking medicine is one of many things they have no control over.


As kids grow older, it's important that they're given the chance to develop a sense of independence through the power of decision-making. Kids taking medicine creates a dilemma because it's traditionally a situation with little to no choices available. This can lead to a stressful stalemate between the sick child who doesn't want to take medicine and their parent who needs them to take the medicine to get better.


Flavoring medication is a realistic way to introduce choice, empowering the child to take ownership over their health. Giving kids a say in how they want their medicine to taste can help change something that was scary and unpleasant to something more familiar that they have some control over. The first step to forming these positive associations with medicine is as easy as visiting the pharmacy.

“My 4-year-old son has a hard time with medicine. I let him pick the flavor and he chose watermelon. I tasted some and the flavor was amazing. Now he absolutely loves taking his

medicine, he has even told me what flavor he wants to try next time.” – Angelia C., Mom

Pharmacist flavoring medicineA pharmacist at Palacios Prescription Shoppe talks to a young patient about her flavored medicine


FLAVORx at the Pharmacy


Flavoring medication can change medicine from something that’s controlled by grown-ups to something that kids have a say in. FLAVORx pharmacies are equipped with tools to help make flavoring an interactive experience that kids have a chance to participate in. 


The Flavor Wheel is a tactile way for the pharmacist to show children which flavors they can choose for commonly flavored medicines like Amoxicillin, Tamiflu, and Cleocin. Sugar-free lollipops give kids a chance to try out their favorite flavor and leave the pharmacy with a treat. Even the bright, cheery lights of the Fillmaster Auto signal that there’s something cool going on beyond the sterility of the pharmacy counter.


Pharmacies are uniquely positioned to make a big difference for kids and parents at medicine-time. As healthcare experts, pharmacists and pharmacy techs can make it so much easier for kids to take medicine simply by asking how they would like their medicine to taste. Later on at home when the time comes for the child to take their medicine, it’s not the yucky medicine being forced down their throat. They get to take the medicine that they got to customize with a favorite flavor. Simply being given this feeling of control can create a lasting impact on how children view taking medicine.

“I had a mom with a sick child last week that just looked miserable. Mom was worried that she was going to have trouble getting her son to take the medicine because he didn’t like trying new things.

I offered the boy a flavor list and suggested that he pick out his favorite personal ‘recipe’. The boy loved that he was a part of this process and was excited to try his medicine. Needless to say, Mom walked away very pleased and the boy left with a smile.” – Cindy L., Pharmacist

Pharmacist flavoring medicine

A pharmacist at Medicap Pharmacy (Austin, MN) uses a flavor wheel to help a family pick a favorite flavor



Medicine-time struggles are a widespread problem that affect a large portion of families around the country. Fortunately, pharmacy professionals in over 45,000 pharmacies in the United States have the tools and know-how to make a real difference. Allowing a child to choose the way they want their medication to taste can help them form positive associations around taking medicine - and create a lasting impact on their health.



Find a FLAVORx pharmacy and learn more about us here


Topics: Adherence, Compliance, and Health


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